Primary Care News

GP survey finds continued reduction in people finding it easy to access services as new myGP smartphone app launched to help tackle the issue

Tobias Alpsten, CEO of Health Tech specialist iPLATO comments;

NHS England last week published national survey data1 which showed an increase to almost 25% in the number of patients finding it either ‘not very easy’ or ‘not at all easy’ to get through to their GP surgery. The survey also found that more people found it difficult to get an appointment and satisfaction with surgery opening hours has declined. These figures come amid huge concern about GP workload and capacity, yet an ongoing push by the Government to improve patient access to health services.

testAt iPLATO, we have recently launched a new revolutionary smartphone app – myGP, commissioned by NHS England – which aims to revolutionise the GP appointment system. The app allows patients to securely book and/or cancel appointments remotely on their smartphone, systematically freeing up urgent GP appointments resulting in reduced pressure on urgent care services and bringing significant financial savings to CCGs. The NHS Patient Survey2 to urgent care services including A&E and Walk-in Centres.

myGP is simple to install and easy to use allowing patients to cancel their appointment in advance if they know they will be unable to attend. Research from a recent launch with a Kent-based GP practice found that 27% of patients enrolled on myGP within the first 7 days. When this is replicated nationwide, we will be able to save the NHS a considerable amount of money in wasted appointments.

myGP securely automates the process of capturing important patient data which enables practices to tailor health information, alerts and reminders regarding health campaigns such as seasonal flu inoculations, NHS Health Check and cancer screening. Whilst this has initially focused on promoting ‘stop smoking services’, there are plans to provide other initiatives, all of which will alleviate long term pressure on the NHS. Over time, we hope the mobile service will help diagnose a range of conditions early, but, in the immediate term, myGP working alongside GP Principal Systems such as EMIS Health, allows practices to identify patients ‘at risk’, in order to easily engage with them and bring them in for check-ups.

With patients securely booking and cancelling appointments remotely on their phone, this also takes the pressure off GP receptionists at some of the busiest times of year, such as the winter flu season.

Featuring medication reminders and self-care support tools, the myGP app will also help improve patient outcomes and ultimately support patients to better manage long-term conditions such as diabetes.

Significant measures have already been taken to help tackle the amount of ‘Did Not Attends’, such as gentle reminders to strict warnings that the patient will be removed from the list – with varying degrees of success. Reasons for non-attendance have been investigated by the National Audit Office3 and several other Regions and Trusts, with results showing that up to 50% of non-attenders say they ‘forgot’ their appointment or ‘did not know about it’.

We are all incredibly excited about the ability of myGP to make a real difference in speeding up access in relation to the GP appointment process, and consequently, helping to ‘free up’ appointments for patients in need of medical advice and treatment.

Also, the launch of myGP comes at a time when a new major report recommends digital technology as a way to save the health service from further financial crisis and the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, announces plans to fast-track digital innovations to support patient care.

References

1. Survey of 836,312 patients (2 July 2015 – 1 April 2016).

2. NHS Patient Survey 2014. A&E and NHS Walk-in Centres.

3. National Audit Office (1995) National Health Service outpatient services in England and Wales. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. (National Audit Office, April, London).

4. The Daily Telegraph (Laura Donnelly), Friday 17th June.

For more information or to interview Tobias Alpsten, please contact the iPLATO press office on tel: 020 7112 4905, or email jo.gulliver@trinitypr.co.uk / katie.coombs@trinitypr.co.uk